Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tanasi SERC 2012

So, this isn't a race report per se.  It's more a spectator's view of the awesome race that SERC/goneriding puts on at the Ocoee white water center.  Since getting a bit further along in pregnancy, I've taken the role on the US-Stove/Trek team of photographer, water girl and cheerleader.  Today provived ample opportunity for photos and cheering-- the US-Stove ladies had a very strong showing!

Of the expert/pro women podium, 3 of the 5 spots where US-Stove::
Kym got first
Paula got third (I can't hold back from mentioning that last weekend Paula won the Big Frog 65 with a time of 5:12 and then came out the very next day and got 3rd at the Winder, GA SERC race.)
Catherine got fourth
Pro/expert women's podium.

Emily P. held strong in the expert/pro cat as well.

In the Sport category, despite doing the 3-state. 3 mountain century yesterday, Stephanie Smith held her own in one of her first handful of cross country races.

I'll let the racer's reports speak for themselves.  From my vantage point, it was a fantastic performance.

Happy bike.

For some exercise while they were racing, I rode my beloved Superfly (that I've shifted into a more pregnancy friendly 32-22) on the forest service roads from the Thunder Rock Campground to FS221.  I retraced my steps back to the race start and hurried up the first singletrack of the race course-- hoping I could make it to a pull off to take pictures before getting overtaken by the race.  It was a success and I snagged numerous very blurry photos and a handful of decent ones.  After that, it was back to the Trek tent to meet up with Mark F and Joel to hand out water bottles and cheer. 

Catherine P's husband Reid came through looking tough.  Then, the US-Stove team blazed through the feed zone and thankfully no water bottles were dropped in the hand offs.  Next, it was time to cheer for Fenton Scruggs, my husband Tony, Richie Daigle, Tim Bell, Ginger Sillery and a few others.  After everyone I knew had gone by, with Mark manning the remaining bottles, I darted off to try to snag some more photos before people descended Thunder Rock Express.  By the time my tired legs reclimbed the gravel road, took the Benton/McR trail to the race course, I missed most folks except Emily, Ginger and then the fast duo of Ryan Woodall and Thomas Turner (who ran into a bear while racing!).
Once back at the finish, the US-Stove team and support crew relaxed before hitting the podium.  Chattanooga in general made a nice impact on this race with Tim Bell doing his normal feat of greatness in SS, Fenton getting 1st in sport 40-49, my hub Tony getting 2nd to Fenton, Ginger placing 1st in Sport women and I'm sure some others who I can't recall.  To top it off, I ran into folks I haven't seen in what feels like forever: the Pillsbury Posse of Desiree, Jamie and Miles.  Was great so see them.

I may not be racing this season's SERC, but I'm thankful to ride with teammates who do so well!  Great weekend overall.  Stay tuned for the next installment.

Here are some of the other photos of the race and afterwards:

Pro/expert women's field led by Kym, Paula and Catherine.

US-Stove looking strong on the starting climb.

More of the starting climb Pro/expert women's field.

The other half of Team Angevine took the hole shot.

Post-race: Emily, Paula, Stephanie and Kym.

Single Speed: Tim Bell 1st place!

Team Angevine in second!

Ginger Sillery won the Sport women.

Thomas Turner and Ryan Woodall, after, I think, their bear encounter.

Us, post race.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Frog, here I come

As many of you know, the Big Frog 65 is a race that takes place near the Tanasi White Water Center. It's about 65 miles with quite a bit of elevation gain. It's a sister race to the longer Cohutta 100, which is part of the NUE series. It's April 28th.

I've done this race on two other occasions. Once 3y ago on my geared 26in bike and 2y ago on a 29in singlespeed. This year I'll be doing one of two very different things: riding my lovely Fisher Superfly SS or riding a Trek Superfly 100 elite. Hardtail ss or geared FS. A variety of things are influencing which ride I'll use, but it's not an easy decision. The ss is so light and easy while the FS will give a smoother ride with the perk of derailleurs.

This year, at least four of the US-Stove Company women are racing in 65 or the 100.

With only a few more weeks of training before the race, I've got some serious mileage to put on my legs/bikes before I'm ready. Stay tuned for updates!

Here's to speedy and safe finishes for all the US-Stove/Trek racers.

Cross season 2011

After a fun cross country season, cross season began. My husband and I travelled primarily to races in the Georgia Cyclocross Series and the Bama-Cross series. While he raced in the singlespeed category on his Traitor crusade, I got to enjoy the plush ride on my Trek Cronus cx. Thanks to the fast bike build by the guys at the Chattanooga Trek store, I was on the bike early in the season. It is one light bike. It handles great, tracks well, and overall, suited me very nicely.

This was my first season racing as a cat 3, so it meant doing a lot of chasing the faster cat 1-2-3's from behind. It also meant racing for 45, instead of 30 minutes. Talk about high intensity training. In addition to the high intensity and short (shorter than cross country distances) races, cross season also means it's time to bring out the skin suits, aka unitards at their most stylish. Our US-Stove Company suits are really sleek and comfortable, and heck, who doesn't love the wood burning stove inspired flames we have on one sleeve? Thanks to our sponsors, our clothing not only looks good, but feels good.

Overall, the cross season was eye opening-- the cat 1-2-3 women are one fast group of racers and 45 minutes is a whole lot of time to be pushing hard. I didn't break any records or sweep any series' podiums, but it was immensely fun and I really look forward to the 12/13 cross season.

Photos from the cross season will be added soon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Local XC, Summer 2011

This weekend brought the Chattanooga Mud Run as well as the epic Fool's Gold 100 and 50 mile races in north Georgia. But don't be fooled, the real racing this weekend took place in Chattanooga, TN at Booker T's short track and cross country races. While the endurance types raced or recovered from the effort on Saturday's FG, the rest of us took on the loose, dry trails in Chattanooga.

Saturday, there was a TT that I missed, but a short track that I did not miss. The ST course was a short (imagine that) loop that began from the typical finish line area in the field, went up the hill to the sidewalk behind the pool, around a U-turn at the crest of the hill, took us skittering around an off camber, left then right hand turn around a tree, and finished down the hill to the field. A lap took about 60-80 seconds, depending on who you were and how sapped your legs felt. About 11 people lined up for the first wave (sport men and women). Because not very many folks outside this category had signed up (Kym F was the only cat 1 woman and my husband was the only SS guy), this ended up being the only wave, and Kym ended up hopping into our race so she would not have to do laps alone. We voted to do 15 min + 3 laps, which felt like about 30 minutes to me.

I considered riding my cross bike, but since it's been neglected since cross season ended, it needed more TLC and maintenance than I could give it before the race. So, I rode the superfly with the 32-21 I planned on using for the xc race and it worked out great. As the only person in my category, I worked hard to beat a few guys and to not let Kym lap me more than once. Thanks to Kym having a chain falling off issue that slowed her down a bit, she only lapped me one time, with a graceful, on-your-left pass on the climb.

Kym and I working hard. Photo courtesy of Celeste Sneed.

About 7 laps in, I started to get fatigued and my 75-80 second laps started being more like 85 second laps. Ultimately, I went back and forth with a few guys, logged 15 laps, ie 15 times up that hill, and won my category. I know, I know, it's pretty amazing that I won given that I was the only cat 2 woman, but, I pushed my limits, and I did it. Kym got 3rd overall, but I bet could have won if she had not had a mechanical issue. My support crew of one, otherwise known as Anthony, cheered me on, but opted not to do a short track "race" all by himself. Perhaps next year, the ST will have more participants so I can spectate as well. Results are here. Many thanks to everyone who set up the course- Aaron, Joe, Bill, Ken, Scalla, Mark, Taylor (our team mechanic), Celeste etc.

As for the XC race the next day, Team Angevine brought home the bragging rights of two first place finishes. Since we've never done this before, this is a monumental moment for us as a couple. After a taste of the success, our sights are now set on a national level, dual domination. All joking aside, even though the categories weren't stacked, we both had pretty good races. The SS's started first in the first wave: it was Anthony and one other guy, Micheal Edens, both on rigid 29ers. Obviously, I never saw them until the end of my race, but they both held off the sport riders who started behind them.

My race started with three of us (Stephanie Rynas, Chrysa Malosh and I), but in the nick of time, ended up being a group of four when Marsha Williams booked it to the starting line-- poor girl, I think got stuck in traffic, pulled in, parked, registered and made it to the starting line sans warm up with about 60 seconds to spare. We started up the road and I spun as quickly as I could. I just knew the other girls were going to up-shift and pass me like I was standing still. Once the incline began, I was grateful to feel some resistance with my revolutions and could just barely make out Stephanie and Marsha in my peripheral vision. Dang-- maybe I can beat them into the woods, I thought. Somehow as the hill crested and we turned on the last pavement stretch before the trail entry, I was able to stay in position and be first into the woods. A few minutes later once we hit the field, I saw Marsha and Stephanie enter the field as I was about the re-enter the woods. I put my head down and pedalled. With the exception of seeing a few guys (John Wikle, you were a carrot, thanks for letting me by!), I rode by myself. Every noise my bike made, or creak of a tree limb I thought was surely one of the girls. It was so dry out that I was sliding around a lot and I stopped 4-5 times to squeeze my rear tire to make sure it wasn't flat.

As a side note- prior to the race, I endo'd just riding in the grass when I came upon a rather large hole in the ground, at least 2'w x 1'd, a veritable caldera that gobbled up my front wheel and flung me up and over and down. It was one of those slow motion, comical, no carnage endos. I figured this was my one crash for the day. But no, while trying to eat during the race, I discovered I'm not so good riding with one hand on the bars. I tapped something, lost control, endo'd, but managed to hold onto my snack. Thankfully, no one caught me due to the mishap and I was able to finish without seeing the others until I was done.

Celeste Sneed was there snapping photos and got this one as well as the ST one above:

In the end, Anthony won the SS cat, I finished just ahead of Stephanie R, Marsha W and Chrysa M who took 2nd, 3rd and 4th. My teammates, Kym F and Shannon M, came in 1, 2 in the expert/pro category. Results are here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fontana 2011: 3rd x 2

The entire US-Stove/Vantaggio team attended the SERC finale with good results all around. I had not done the Fontana course since 2008 and wasn't sure what to expect. The pre-ride confirmed that my legs felt emptier than I wanted them to feel, but the course itself was a nice loop with technical descents and only a few sections I'd have to hoof it through.

The night before the XC race was filled with dinner, beer and spectating the short track race. The US-Stove ladies Anina, Catherine and Shannon comprised the women's field and did great. I got to enjoy watching my husband as well--- despite approaching the short track race with much trepidation and dread, he was in the top 3 for the first 2-3 laps, on his Traitor ss cross bike. After a crash, his front brake remained snugly engaged, and he rode at least 5 laps with that brake on, before he was finally able to disengage the cable and ride front-brake free. Who needs a front brake anyway? Next year he'll redeem himself with a mechanical-issue-free race.

The morning of the race had me feeling horrible. All I had to do was finish the race and I'd secure my 3rd overall place in the sport category. Despite that, I wanted to do well and felt depleted on my warm up ride. At the line when we got to vote whether to do 2 or 3 laps, as much as I usually think voting down the course is somewhat lame, I couldn't resist voting for 2. By one vote, the 2 lap paradigm won. The start went up a steep paved road that I heard was about 300 feet of climbing. Everyone took off in front of me and I thought, oh well, here goes a painful race. I stood up, got into a steady rhythm and within a short distance, was surprised and happy to be passing people. By the top of the hill, I entered the woods in 2nd behind this fast TVB racer, Kaysee, (who rumor had it was doing her first xc race). Once on the singletrack, I never could get her in sight. By the time I got to the steep gravel road climb and had to hop off and walk up, I was caught by Shannon A of the Cycle De Oro team. Work as I might to keep her in sight, she also disappeared. Through the second lap, I kept spying Tiffany B out of the corner of my eye, so I kept pushing up the climbs and tried to be careful on the descents. Near the dreaded gravel road climb, my mind started wandering and I began to wonder if maybe I'd made a mistake-- did we vote for 2 or for 3 laps? Crap. How many laps do I have left? How could I be so uncertain? How ironic, here I am happy to be on my last lap, when maybe I heard the official wrong and maybe we are doing 3 laps...

Thankfully, I ran into Jane H's husband Dan and was able to ask him. He probably thought I was losing it, but I was very grateful for his input and confirmation that indeed, we did only have to do 2 laps. My legs and lungs, despite feeling blase at the start, stayed in a steady pace through the second lap. The descent down the turkey chute was like a roller coaster and when I hit the pavement leading to the finish line, I was all smiles. I ran into Star who confirmed there was no one right behind me. For the second and final time, I pedaled past the greatest support crew ever, aka the US-Stove posse of husbands, Anthony, Bryan and John, and somehow made it up the hill and did not crash going over the curb at the finish line.

All in all, I finished 3rd in the race and 3rd overall. My bike felt great thanks to Taylor K at the trek store. My teammates all finished really well in the expert category. The Berger family put on another great series. Pictures will be posted soon. Cross season here I come.

SERC 2011 is complete

The last race of the SERC season is now finished! As a blogging novice, my blogging skills are still in development, so many fun race weekends and riding adventures have surfed under the radar. In an effort to be thorough, here are a few snippets about some races leading up to Fontana's finale:

6/18 Cysco Cycles 6 hour race at Booker T: Out of 4 women, I landed 2nd, waaaay behind Elizabeth McCallie. Logged about 43 miles in 5h25ish min. 32-21 gearing, high humidity. Had friends and teammates in the cheering section.

6/26 Clemson, SC SERC: Fun, hilly, rooty course with some sections of twisty, newly cut trail. More hills than I remembered. Slick roots on the trail by the water precipitated multiple screw-ups and dabs. Went back and forth with Tiffany B (who is one very consistent rider). The 32-21 worked well for the gravel road climb to the finish. Ended up 4th behind Julie Stewart and just in front of Tiffany B.

7/10 Huntsville, AL SERC: Most of the US-Stove Company team convened at Team Copaxone headquarters (aka Grace Ragland's home) and crashed with her kind roommate Steve G). Gnarly, rugged pinhoti/pisgah-esque trail + fast, flowy double track = the Monte Sano race course. Despite lots of crashes, it was a good race. Still liked the 32-21 on the superfly for 3/4 of the course, but could have used an extra gear on all the flat stuff. Worked hard to catch Tiffany B, but couldn't, and ended up 2nd between her and Heather D.

7/17 Hellacious Helen, GA SERC make up: Due to missing the FL serc, having a flat tire on my car the AM of the Tanasi serc and blowing it at the Raccoon serc, I had some crucial points to make up to even qualify for the overall standings. Enter Helen's race. In a nutshell--
Kym, Star & I,
very dingy, very expensive hotel,
tourist trap town,
super hilly race course,
hollow feeling legs,
many hike a bike sections for me due to not being able to push the gear I had up the hills,
back and forth with persistent Paige P (who ultimately won the GSC series),
steep grade at the finish = humbling hilarity of pushing my bike across finish line,
eeked out 3rd place by a hair in front of Paige P,
goats on the roof roadside store visit after the race.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Disappointment on home turf

The Raccoon Mtn SERC race was a mixed bag.

On the plus side:
It's 15 minutes from home.
No hotel is needed.
The course is familiar.
I like this course.
It was not too hot.
My teammates did great in the expert/pro category.
Terry Berger let me borrow a race number.
US-Stove company displayed their grills and stoves.
US-Stove company cooked on their grills.
US-Stove company gave away food to racers!
I learned the importance of a valve core.
My husband provided excellent taxi service.

On the other hand:
I flatted on my tubeless tire about 5 minutes in.
I lost the valve core on tube I used to repair the flat.
Four cat 2 women started the race and only two finished.

So, my teammates rock, our sponsor, US-Stove rocks and the race was a great time (for those folks who finished). Here's my mini race report: the course has a start that's challenging with one gear that loops around the Laurel Pt circular paved drive and then shoots into the woods where in past years the race would finish. The single track at the beginning is twisty, rooty, dry, and with off camber rocks here and there. There is an advantage to being local for the first few miles of trail due to the more technical rocky sections. Then the course spits out onto the road for about a 1.5 mile road section up to the switchyard. Diving back onto single track, you take the trail up grindstone ridge and exit the singletrack at the visitor center parking lot. The course goes up the road briefly before rejoining a fun descent and then making its way back to Laurel pt.

As has become a trend, I entered the woods behind the FL ladies, Jane and Heather, and behind the only other racer, a girl from the Sorella team. Soon after inching past the Sorella racer in a technical section, I flatted. Stans was spewing out of the defect, but not fast enough to fill it. I wasn't patient enough to wait out the Stans self repair, so I put in a tube. The valve core was loose, but in the heat of the moment, I didn't notice it. The Sorella girl passed me by mid-repair. So, with sub-optimal psi, I started hammering hoping to at least catch someone. I soon ran into the Sorella girl, as she is called since I don't know her name, because she broke her chain and was walking back toward the start. Then, I popped out onto the road waaaaay behind everyone in the yellow wave.

Meanwhile, my husband was spectating and cheering. Little did I know, he had watched everyone go by the switchyard, everyone, that is, but me and was perplexed. As I started up the road, I heard an ambulance behind me. The sirens were apparently loud enough for the aforementioned husband to hear at the switchyard. Concerned EMS was there for me, while I kept pushing hard up the road, he started booking it on his cross bike back to the East Overlook. We crossed paths on the road and with my uninjured state confirmed, with much relief, he headed off to investigate what was up with the EMS folks.

Optimistic, I started the climb to the visitor's center. My rear tire felt so sloppy, but I was out of CO2 and rode gingerly on the descents in an effort to minimize a pinch flat. Then, I rounded a corner and saw an unused CO2 on the ground! Heck yeah! I thought, here's my chance-- I'll add some more pressure to my tire, it will feel like it should instead of this warbling mess, and I'll be able to reel in Jane and Heather to at least a few minutes away. Woo hoo!! I was so excited as I stopped and threaded the cartridge onto my adapter. I had a brief moment of considering not messing with what seemed to be working for fear of making something worse, but rationalized adding the extra pressure by thinking about how I didn't want to get a pinch flat and really wanted the bike to handle more predictably. I thought- with this low PSI, I'm more likely to wreck and have a bigger issue because the bike is handling differently. So, I added the entire cartridge, the tire felt so much better, I took the adapter off the valve and sure enough: swoooosh, poof, groan, multiple expletives.

The valve core which was hanging on by half of a thread before, shot out of the valve and all that precious air left my tire with 0 psi. I searched the leaves and trail briefly to look for the valve core and stopped looking when I realized that even if I found it, I had no CO2. Sadness set in. I had about 6 miles of race course between me and the completion of one lap. Not realizing that if I'd walked it in and gotten lapped by Heather and Jane as they were finishing, I could have logged finishing points, I pulled out my phone and with much disappointment, got my husband on speed dial.

Lesson learned: Valve cores are important little suckers.

Although a disappointing experience, I'm grateful to be intact/unhurt.
I'm also grateful for the sponsors that make is feasible for our entire team to race and travel. US-Stove Company, you guys are the best!!